Media Release -The support for abolishing the Executive Presidency is a ‘Fool’s Errand’

SPUR (Society for Peace, Unity and Human Rights for Sri Lanka                                                                                                                                                                               
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The Society for Peace Unity and Human Rights for Sri Lanka (SPUR) joins other nationalist organisations, professionals and patriotic politicians in strongly condemning the proposal to abolish the Executive Presidential System in Sri Lanka.
The territorial integrity and unitary state of the nation is critically dependent on an Executive President who is directly elected by all its eligible citizens regardless of ethnicity, religion or regional/local interests. In particular, it acts as a counterweight to the separatist features of the 13th Amendment because the peoples’ sovereignty over the entire nation is exercised by the President through the Provincial Governors.
It is indeed the Executive President, who is also the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, who played a vital role in providing political leadership and mobilising the resources to protect the country from the separatist forces and resisted foreign interference during war with the Tamil Tiger Terrorists. Even in recent times, the perpetrators of infamous Central Bond Scam would not have been exposed even to this extent if not for the intervention of the President.
At a time when the legislative arm of the country has been prone to instability and is being held to ransom by power brokers, it is the Executive Presidency which retains the important role of balancing the power blocks and setting the political direction for Sri Lanka as a whole.
The Presidential System of Government is widely and successfully used in both Western and Eastern countries. While improvements to the Sri Lankan Constitution are always possible, they should be done with proper analysis and consultation rather than as an expedient short-cut to power at the expense of the nation’s stability and security.
In the present context, hasty steps are being taken to introduce a new constitution at the behest of the separatist diaspora as well as the external powers which are attempting to change the character of Sri Lanka by enhancing the powers of the periphery at the expense of a strong and unifying centre. The sudden interest of the JVP and other fringe groups in promoting this as a ‘democratic’ solution is nothing but a trap to enshrine the separatist ‘power sharing’ among racist enclaves within a weakened Sri Lankan State.
It is indeed unfortunate that some representatives of the Joint Opposition appear to support the abolition of the executive presidency. Those on this ‘fool’s errand’, dreaming that it could be linked to the dissolution of Parliament followed by early election, are in fact ‘throwing out the baby with the bath water’ in return for short-term gains in political power.
Hence, we urge the Joint Opposition, the SLFP as well as the patriotic members of all other parties to oppose any proposal to abolish the Executive Presidency. We also appeal to the people of Sri Lanka to be alert to this impending threat and reject any such Constitutional Amendment if and when it is placed before them at a future Referendum.

Ranjith Soysa

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